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National Science Foundation awards Heartland with $296K grant

April 15, 2021

Heartland Community College has received a major grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to advance industrial technology education. 

An NSF Award of $296,356.00 will be applied toward Heartland’s Flexible Learning for Industrial Technology Education (FLITE) project. 

“The FLITE project will demonstrate an innovative hybrid model for industrial technology education that employs an open manufacturing lab and flexible delivery of the curriculum,” said Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Rick Pearce. “Flexible learning formats within HCC’s Industrial Technology programs and courses will make it easier for students to begin, efficiently progress through, and complete our Industrial Technology programs and courses.”  

Courses are designed to offer students the opportunity to learn theory in different settings -- such as online or hybrid formats -- and then help them develop and practice the hands-on skills they’ll need for the workforce. Once the project is completed, students will be able to take courses offered through the FLITE lab each semester rather than waiting for a course catalog to match their schedule. 

Access to the open lab will be available daytime, nighttime and weekend hours. This is designed to provide equity for students in different situations and provide more opportunities for students to get the hands-on lab time they need. 

The opportunity to work on this project will also benefit others outside of Heartland.

“One of the requirements of this grant is that we share our successes with other schools so they, too, can benefit from our work and replicate the model,” said Dana King, Dean of Career and Technical Education. “The impact of our work could be far-reaching and benefit the field of Industrial Technology.”

The FLITE project is part of an overall Work Ready strategy at Heartland to provide students the opportunity to quickly advance into the workplace, but also use “stackable” credits to pursue the next level of their career goals. 

The grant, written by Distinguished Professor of Industrial Technology Kim Travers and Distinguished Professor of Industrial Technology Chris Miller, will fund the development of the FLITE program for future Industrial Technology students. The first implementation of the program could begin in the 2023 or 2024 academic year.

About the National Science Foundation

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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Written by: Steve Fast